CVS Follows Biden COVID Vaccine Guidance Over Gov. DeSantis on Teachers

CVS will give COVID vaccines to Florida's teachers and child care workers under age 50, despite opposing guidance from the state's governor.

The pharmacy chain linked to the retailer, CVS Health, is siding with the Biden administration's directive announced on Tuesday (March 2), which said all states should prioritize their school staff and childcare workers for COVID vaccinations.

The president said this week that the aim is to have teachers, school staff and childcare workers administered their first shot by the end of March.

Florida's health department said on Monday that Governor Ron DeSantis had expanded the groups eligible to receive the COVID vaccine to include K-12 school employees 50 years or older, alongside law enforcement and firefighters of the same age bracket.

Despite that guidance, CVS Health told The Associated Press its pharmacies will include teachers and school staff under 50, and it had started to vaccinate daycare and preschool teachers on Wednesday despite them not being listed as an eligible group.

"We've aligned with updated Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines by making appointments available to pre-K through 12 educators and staff and childcare workers in all 17 states where we currently offer COVID-19 vaccines," CVS Health said.

The federal pharmacy program was launched on February 2 and uses local retailers to circulate COVID vaccine doses to local communities across the U.S.

While vaccine supplies remain limited, retailers including CVS, Walmart and Walgreens have urged eligible residents to use their respective websites to sign up for doses.

Regarding supply, CVS has assured visitors on its website: "Eventually, nearly all of our 9,900 pharmacies will offer the vaccine. Assuming adequate supply of the vaccine and supplies, CVS Health has the capacity to administer 20-25 million doses a month."

Last week, DeSantis held a press conference at a Miami-Dade County CVS to announce the chain would offer vaccines at 81 select CVS Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy y más, and Navarro Discount Pharmacy locations in 13 counties across the state.

Announcing the teacher-focused vaccine guidance this week, President Biden said the move would help to "accelerate the safe reopening of our schools."

He said: "We will be using our federal pharmacy program to prioritize the vaccination of pre-K through 12 educators and staff and child-care workers.

"Throughout March, they will be able to prioritize the vaccination of pre-K-through-12 educators and staff and childcare workers. Throughout March, they will be able to sign up for an appointment at a pharmacy near them.

"And I want to be very clear: Not every educator will be able to get their appointment in the first week, but our goal is to do everything we can to help every educator receive a shot this month, the month of March. I want to conclude with this: We're making progress from the mess we inherited. We're moving in the right direction."

It remains unclear if the official Florida guidance is set to change. Governor DeSantis and a CVS Health representative were both contacted for comment by Newsweek.

COVID-19 vaccine
A healthcare worker with American Medical Response, Inc working with the Florida Department of Health in Broward administers a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on January 6, 2021 in Pompano Beach, Florida. CVS is giving vaccines in Florida to teachers under 50, despite opposing state guidance. Joe Raedle/Getty